Letter to the editor: About that Confederate flag in the back of your truck…


SEEKING / I SAW YOU (December 9, 2015)

You: driving a 1980s blue pickup truck with a 3’x4′ Confederate flag flying out of the bed.

Me: 30ish guy running on the sidewalk along 76th Ave giving you a “thumbs down” (classier than “the bird,” right?)

Would like to meet for a rational discussion on why you have a confederate flag and if you are aware of how offensive it is. To everyone. Everywhere.

Yours truly,

Luke Distelhorst

48 Replies to “Letter to the editor: About that Confederate flag in the back of your truck…”

  1. I think David (above) is right on this one. Everyone is on ready to be offended. Why is it that we are so disgusted by other peoples opinions (distorted as they may be)? Since when do we all have to form this one media centric dialog? My advice is to grow some thicker skin and let your neighbor believe in whatever they want, that is what this country is about!

  2. When my father enlisted in the army he was sent to a base in the South for basic training. In a land of blacks and whites, he was one of the first Filipinos many of them had seen. The whites didn’t know what to make of him and lumped him in with blacks – he was forced to use the “black only” water fountains and stay out of “whites only” places. He was so angry and humiliated, he barely left the base. His final memory was trying to buy a drink in the airport on the way out and getting a scowl and a turned back from the white woman working the counter. He vowed he’d never set foot in the South again. So while the Confederate flag may represent a “homeland,” sentimental memories, and/or beloved ancestral lines to some, it’s the American equivalent to the Nazi flag to others.

  3. Well said David and Joe. And by the way, Luke; as part of “Everyone. Everywhere.” I say…nope, not really…

    1. Michael, David and Joe, if we had a “like” button I would press it 100 times. Freedom of Speech, this is what this is about; whether you like it or not; whether it offends you are not; whether it “saddens” you or not. It would be a whole lot sadder if we lived in a country that hand picked what is offensive. You can post all you want, you can complain all you want. There are many things that I see and hear that I do not agree. But my family (DAR) all fought in wars for these freedoms. Be offended, if you must. But realize that you live in the United States of America, not Russia (in which I have lived 3 years). Luke, I hope the confederate flag flyer does contact you; I hope you have a wonderful discussion; I hope you both walk away knowing that that you both have the freedom to express yourself. Tolerance works both sides of the track, not just one side if someone does not agree with you. This is why we have a Bill of Rights. So carry on Posters, it is our right and privilege to let our voices be heard courtesy of MEN!

  4. “Equivalent to the Nazi flag”
    Appropriate analogy.
    To anyone who can’t see this I say, try looking up the history of the flag and the people who first flew it.

  5. Spoken by whites here, of course……..entitled whites, WHITE PRIVELEDGE…….

    We live in a world where everyone deserves respect and a seat on the bus. We dont live in a world where colonialism rules anymore. We live in a vibrant, diverse world community where everybody deserves respect. Edmonds will not grow or move forward with this type of old, old school generational bigotted thinking.

    Young educated people do not look at the world like this……..there is nothing sentimental about biggotry and hate toward anyone anywhere……..

    “all you need is love”…….again, all you need is love out there……love is all you need, love is all you need, love is all you need

    Thank you, Lisa for your post. We must always remember and learn from history!

  6. Flying the confederate flag is similar to flying the nazi flag. It’s offensive because it’s a symbol of hate toward African Americans, and as Lisa illustrated, toward people of color in general. The flag celebrates a time in American history and an economy built on the slavery of Africans. Good for you, Luke, for attempting to engage in peaceful dialogue with someone you disagree with.

  7. I’ve lived in Edmonds for some years and am considerably more offended by your rude hand gestures and complaints than a symbol from nineteenth century American history.

  8. So tell me then: If you look at a lot of young people’s Japanese cars, you will see some form of the Japanese battle flag represented in a sticker or actually painted on their car. Does this offend your sensibilities as well?

    I am white, though I am not a Southerner. The Virginia Battle Flag, the “stars and bars”, for most represents a period in history and heritage, not a hatred of black people. None of my friends that are people of color are offended by it. Only my liberal white friends seem to have a problem with it.

  9. The confederate flag is a pro-slavery, racist symbol. Yes, you have right to drive around with that symbol in your POS truck window. And we have the right to say, “Oh look, there goes a pro-slavery, racist.”

  10. I wonder if you would be just as upset if it were an Israeli flag (offensive to Palestinians) or a Serbian Flag or a Ukranian Flag or A Confederated Russian States Flag or a British Jack (hell think of the colonialism that happened with that one) –

    There is a difference between free speech, political correctness, good taste, and rights. I wouldn’t fly the stars and bars, but I wouldn’t fly any of those other flags, regardless of my views or my heritage, because I am an American, and I choose to fly Old Glory – but I am not going to be so PC that I get pissed when I see someone wearing clothes labeled FUBU, when an Olympic athlete raises a gloved fist in defiance and quiet protest, when thousands of people occupy a park of office building, or when someone decides to put a sticker on the back of their truck.

    I do get pissed when I see folks burning the American Flag, or mishandling the flag, because, like it or not, tainted history and all, it is that flag that serves as the blanket of freedom for all of the above speech.

    I would prefer the guy haul a truckload of crumb rubber around though…

  11. The problem with using symbols is that they can represent very different information to different people. Is the Confederate flag-flyer saying what my father would interpret as “I believe all you coloreds are not human, therefore I should be able to do whatever I want and enslave you,” or is it a statement like “I’m a rebel, stick it to big gov, Southerners Rule, Dude!” Are those drivers with the Japanese Rising Sun flag saying “I want to continue the war and win,” or are they supporting a family member who is in the Japanese Maritime or Ground force (this flag is still in use, by the way – it’s like having a US Navy sticker on your car), or is it just a popular symbol that they are Japanese (it certainly seems like the latter). This is precisely Luke’s rational for wanting to have a dialog with the Confederate flag-flyer – to find out what the person really meant. And to let him know that, whether he likes it or not, to many of us people with brown skin, that flag means you support returning to a time when you could enslave us. And that, for those who asked why someone should be offended, is why we are.

    1. Thanks Lisa. I’m a “privileged white male” and, to me, the confederate flag represents a racist history within America. No wonder Trump supporters are rallying with the same anti-“liberal” rants. Racist attitudes are often passively displayed as a “right” to free speech. So, speak up, daring confederate flag flyer… tell us what you support, and why. What do you think about racial, gender, and religious freedom? Please don’t be an a-hole. .. just show that you are not… somehow.

    2. thank you for that Lisa!

      with all the focus of STEM, science, technology, engineering, math (?) – and, of course, OBEY! – has there ever been a time when public “education” has ever spent any serious time introducing students into communication skills???

      to even have the thought to wonder what the person is REALLY saying?

      the Crusades have really never ended, but have expanded, way beyond “The Holy Land”, cursed with black gold

      just after 9/11, i DID find a small article buried in the Seattle Times – Mr. Bin Laden, just wanted the U.S. (the West) out of his homeland! but there is no way, black gold is too necessary to . . . technology and “the American way of life”

      in 1975, in his home in Arab Jerusalem, an Arab, well educated, university professor put it simply . . .

      it doesn’t matter the government, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, it really doesn’t matter!

      just, let us live our lives…

      or, decades later, another way of saying, we just want to be allowed our dignity

      could many followers of ISIS come from the same needs?

      1. What happened to “I disprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it”?

        My Uncle Ronnie dodged the draft, my Dad had piss balloons thrown on him – both of them would agree that they would defend our right to free speech and acted accordingly.

        I have more races, religions, and crooked branches in my family tree – (my children are both Descendants of the Mayflower and Descendants of Confederate Soldiers, and, by the way, part of my lineage married a Slave in North Carolina, part of my lineage changed their name from a French Jewish last name in the 18th century to be more accepted, my Mom is Southern Baptist, My Step Dad is Catholic – so just about anywhere I turn, there is every racist, heritage, birthplace, religion related joke that I could get offended by – hell I am even a Democrat – try being a Democrat in the South…..)

        Not everyone gets a trophy, not all babies are pretty, and not everyone has to agree with you. The beauty is that we live in a country where dialogue isn’t illegal –

        Personally, it makes it a hell of a lot easier for me to know who I choose to spend time with when they advertise their beliefs in this manner –

  12. I find it quite humorous that I am being labelled a Nazi by people that are offended by the Virginia Battle Flag. As I said before, I am not a Southerner. Nor am I a racist. What I am is fiercely protective of the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. As Mr. Bennett stated so well “I disprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it” and I support the guy with flag’s right to fly it. I regularly fly my Rainbow flag to support some of my friends. I also regularly fly my Gadsden Flag. That would probably offend several of you here as well. The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, the very document that our country was founded on, specifically says the guy in the truck can do what he desires in this matter. If you don’t like it, call a Constitutional Convention and get 2/3 of the States to agree with you. THEN you have a valid argument.

  13. Hi Luke,

    Welcome to Edmonds.

    Our son knows you from Bishop Blanchet High School. Our daughter graduated from Holy Names Academy and is acquainted with you as well.

    We no longer live in Seattle. We moved to Edmonds in 2006. Right now, I am writing from California.

    Both my husband and I are appalled by the negative comments that have been hurled at you. I am proud of you for attempting to reach out to the Confederate flag flier and engage him in conversation.

    I have met many people since moving to Edmonds, and the vitriolic comments posted are not representative of the folks that I have befriended. Many of us in the 60-and-over crowd are interested in attracting young people to our town. Please don’t let the curmudgeons ruin your day.

    Barbara Tipton

    1. Barbara, I don’t think any of the comments are vitriolic. I too applaude rational discussion and attempts at such. I just argue that this flag is just as offensive to some as it is a symbol of heritage to others. Edmonds is a wonderful place, but not a place that needs to be sterilized into a town that cannot tolerate free speech. I don’t quite fall into the curmudgeon stage yet, and want Edmonds to be a tolerant city. Whether I agree with the flag or not isn’t the question. It is whether I have the right to demand this person remove the flag or even explain to anyone why they fly it. I don’t choose to fly this particular flag, because I too believe that it promotes a negative connotation for many, but I also do not question the right of the person who is being called out to fly that flag, judgement perhaps, but right, no. Much like offensive tattoos, bumper stickers that are offensive, the Darwin fish, and any other symbol (speech) that will offend someone, (some folks are offended by the Cross).

      We have gotten to a point where people are offended by anything that doesn’t fit their world. It has polarized political and rational discussion. It is contrary to the great experiment. I mean coffee cups, really? If social discussion is giving a thumbs down or the bird, then our political system and system of social equally and tolerance are in trouble. If we have to publicly strip ourselves of every potential form of expression that may offend someone, then we are in trouble. The Confederate States lost. The flag represents hatred and a vile institution for many. That doesn’t mean we don’t have the right to demand a reason for displaying it as much as the person displaying it has the right to tell each of us to pound sand.

      I do agree that it doesn’t have a place in front of public buildings or as a part of a State flag, because the State shouldn’t cling to or represent those ideologies of the Confederate States.

      None the less, it is interesting to me that I instantly become intolerant for defending the right to that speech, as much as I defend the right of Luke to ask the question.

      1. George, As long as we are pulling the husbands into this, my husband and I agree with you. We are certainly not curmudgeons. You are not intolerant for defending the right to free speech, no matter whose speech it may be. The comments have not been vitriolic, as they have come from our friends, who have expressed their support for both sides of this issue. I am proud that we have friends in Edmonds that can write what is on their mind and neither side is so “thin skinned”, that they start calling each other names. Our next dinner party, that includes a couple of people on this thread is going to be really, really fun and lively. Cheers

  14. People people you better read up on the confederate flag, you will be surprised. The confederate flag doesn’t bother me a bit, it’s our history and I guess I don’t give a bleep if I’m not politically correct.

  15. The Confederate flag stands for a terrible time in the history of our country when the South seceded from our country just to have the right to keep people as SLAVES, buy and sell them and use living, breathing human beings as nothing more than commodities and work horses………I see the flag and immediately think of people like George Wallace and the living, breathing hate speeches we heard from him on the nightly news at that time……….and dont get me going about the men in white with pointy hats in the dark of night across the south and some of the sillouetted images of of bodies hanging from trees that we also saw on the nightly news.

    The symbol of this flag to many is in line with the flag or swastika for the third reich. ……..It depicts a time in history when a lot of people were used or murdered by simple disregard of our fellow human beings.

    I listen to some rhetoric now and it is the same kind that we heard during the Civil Rights movement. Our country needs to be moving forward not backward to the ” South will rise again times”…………because thats what some people sound like and I am sure they are white……….

    This has absolutely nothing to do with being politically correct and the bigots and racists know this……..same old rhetoric, just cloaked a little different for now, clearly the same…..its about hate, plain and simple

    We really dont need that here

  16. Tere,

    So what exactly should we ban? What should government do to make it all go away and all better? Do we ban public displays of crosses, black power, Che Guevara t-shirts, communist or Marxist emblems as well?

    The flag does represent horrible institutions that I suspect get very little traction in Edmonds, but does that mean your sensitivity means those with different sensitivity need to do it your way? Do they owe you an explanation or an apology? Do they have to condone and respect your beliefs at the cost of their own?

    I am far from an apologist, and farther from a bigot, but I do support your right to offend me. That’s the great thing. Living in a free(er) society means Luke has the right to ask, and the truck has the right to display the flag.

  17. By all means, read about the history of the confederate flag. Just an abbreviated history:

    … a symbol proudly displayed by the KKK at thousands of lynchings throughout the South. A symbol of Jim Crow and Plessy v. Ferguson, and the the state-sanctioned economic and political subjugation of black people…

    In 1948, Strom Thurmond’s States’ Rights Party adopted the Battle Flag of Northern Virginia as a symbol of defiance against federal powers to enforce civil rights laws in the South…

    Georgia adopted its version of the flag design in 1956 to protest the Supreme Court’s ruling against segregated schools…

    The flag first flew over the state capitol in South Carolina in 1962 to link more aggressive efforts to integrate the South with the trigger of secession 100 years before…

    In the 50s and 60s the flag saw a resurgence, showing up frequently at KKK rallies.

    Most recently, it was proudly displayed by Dylan Roof, who has been charged with massacring nine people during a church service in Charleston, South Carolina last June.

    There’s just a little of the history of your “great thing.”

    1. If you are a regular reader of Civil War Times, the Confederate battle flag is a familiar part of your world. The symbolism of the flag is simple and straightforward: It represents the Confederate side in the war that you enjoy studying. More than likely, your knowledge of the flag has expanded and become more sophisticated over the years. At some point, you learned that the Confederate battle flag was not, in fact, “the Confederate flag” and was not known as the “Stars and Bars.” That name properly belongs to the first national flag of the Confederacy. If you studied the war in the Western and Trans-Mississippi theaters, you learned that “Confederate battle flag” is a misnomer. Many Confederate units served under battle flags that looked nothing like the red flag with the star-studded blue cross. You may have grown up with more than just an idle knowledge of the flag’s association with the Confederacy and its armies, but also with a reverence for the flag because of its association with Confederate ancestors.

      1. Joy,

        Good points, the Confederate States actually had 3 flags, none of which were the Virginia Battle flag. I had to study that in American History.

    2. The Confederate flag never ceased being the flag of the Confederate soldier and still today commands wide respect as a memorial to the Confederate soldier. The history of the flag since 1865 is marked by the accumulation of additional meanings based on additional uses. Within a decade of the end of the war (even before the end of Reconstruction in 1877), white Southerners began using the Confederate flag as a memorial symbol for fallen heroes. Theres alot more info it really is an interesting read..I’m sorry we live in a time where we the people, who were not involved at all in this war, react as if they were on the front line. Some people sound like they need a chill pill and a large dose of reality.

    3. I just don’t think Americans are that prejudice. The first time I EVER knew about racism was when it happened to me in Houston Texas in the early 1970’s. I was working in a department store and I had befriended a hispanic woman. We worked in the same department. One lunch, I walked into a local restaurant to find her there with all her hispanic friends. I walked up to her and she was very rude etc. I walked away and she apologized later and told me she had to because I was white and she was with her spanish friends. (ps. it didn’t ruin me for life or make me think every Hispanic person is prejudice against whites) I worked for 2 airlines and met alot of people in my years and I still say Americans are the best. Yes, there are a few bad eggs, we are a very large country, and I don’t believe we are that prejudice or crazy. EVERY CULTURE is prejudice. The world is very tribal.

  18. You bleeding hearts are completely missing the point. This is not about the symbol itself. It is about the Constitutionally guaranteed right to display such a symbol without persecution or prosecution. This guy’s display of this flag is just as protected your right to worship at the church of your choice. Get over it.

    1. Bravo. I will not get a response back about what should be done and what symbols should be removed , but I will get called an intolerant, racist, bigot. The institutions behind slavery disgust me. The exploitation of women, children, and the weak disgusts me. The acts committed by religious zealots disgust me. That doesn’t mean we strip society of everything that disgusts me. I argue the contrary, that I would prefer the wolves stay dressed as wolves, and not disguise their beliefs behind sheep’s clothing.

      I applaude the right to be offended, and the right to free speech. I don’t understand what is so traumatic about that concept.

    2. You put up a swastika and just watch what happens……..we do have laws against yelling fire in a theatre, and I can guarantee that would be the eqivalent

      its the same with that confederate flag………they are clear symbols of a time of hate…….

      1. The question is not whether they are symbols of hate. We would all agree that they, much like the cross, the peace symbol, the Christian Fish, the Darwin fish, Polo shirts, Nike Shoes, and other symbols are connotations of speech. What you propose is sterilizing free speech – and damning the rest of the people who may display certain characteristics or different speech (different than what you deem is hateful). You, in essence, are creating a racist, ethnocentric, apologetic baby state because you think it makes folks feel bad. Church makes me feel bad, taxes make me feel bad, wool shirts make me feel bad. Let’s ban those too.

        In 1944, 18 year olds jumped out of planes, where the overwhelming outcome was death. Now, you propose 18 year olds need a place that is free from symbols that make them feel bad. It’s not the symbols that kill – it is the people and the actions that killed. The ISIS flag doesn’t mean anything to me. The person carrying it, that’s a different story.

        My great grandmother owned chickens. She didn’t euthanize them in a sterile environment playing soothing music (although they were free range) she chopped their heads off on an old stump with a rusty axe. Then we ate Sunday dinner. Should I apologize to PETA and animal lovers for eating chicken that my great grandmother cooked for me? Is this hate speech towards chickens? Is a McNugget commercial offensive to some – sure it is – we have plenty of obese kids and adults running around eating meat – and we are glorifying one of the largest causes of death in America (regardless of race, sex, and sexual orientation) – heavens to Betsy – that is too much! Ban it! Ban it now! Protect the chickens and children from obesity! This language is killing them!

        I would prefer to know the beliefs of the people I hang around with. Having lived in the South – I have seen the undercurrent of “quiet racism”. Does telling Joe Dirt to pull a flag out of his yard make a bit of difference in his beliefs? Does it create that intelligent dialogue you long for? No – on the contrary – it creates further feelings of division and hate. You choose to divide them without any dialogue and make the academic observation that they must be backwards racists and hate all forms of minority. That is pure and unadulterated ignorance – as ignorant as not being sensitive to a larger community.

        Rhetoric is very easy, and most of your comments are rhetoric, blatantly copied from other websites. Actions are louder. Ethnocentrism, unfortunately or fortunately, exists in every known society. It’s called diversity, it’s called culture. The Confederate Battle Flag and other symbols certainly create a rise of emotion in people – so does the American Flag.

        Let’s discuss the article you cite – Walk into a bodega in Chicago. Walk through the Polish district, the Vietnamese district, the Muslim neighborhoods, the blue collar neighborhoods, the white collar neighborhoods, the college neighborhoods – all in Chicago – and you are going to find distinct and measurable differences about what is offered there. Should I be offended that I cannot buy a pork sandwich in a shop that has Halal food and Farsi script on the sign? Walk into Ranch Market on 99 and look for Hazelnut and Granola yogurt with honey dipping mix. You should bring that up to the management. They are creating reverse discrimination by not offering something a minority of their shoppers really eat a lot of (at least I see a lot of white folks in Edmonds eating the stuff, I can’t stand it, but I am white, therefore I must like it, and therefore must shop at locations where they sell it, because they are catering to my whiteness).

        Language that incites is a razor blade – one can see the difference between yelling fire in a theater and having a flag displayed. What you propose through “All you need is love” is ridiculous. ISIS loves their beliefs. They have a whole bunch of love they want to share with you. Their way. You need people who are willing to stand up for the Constitution, to lend a hand to the less fortunate for whatever reason, and to have a community where intelligent dialogue without assumption can exist. Examples of such – donate time and money to causes that you support, feed the homeless in every town you are in, hire the right person because of their skill set, and where an opportunity exists to promote diversity, promote it.

        It really gets my goat – I don’t use sentences like “I am going to my African American friends house to celebrate with his LGBT group a seasonal celebration and reflection of quiet observance and exchange of ethically and morally correct offerings of peace and love to further relationships” – I say “I am going to Matt’s house, he is having some pretty fun folks over, and there is a Secret Santa exchange, I hope I don’t end up with the damn “Miracle of Eggs” cook book again” – I suppose that makes me an insensitive and uneducated racist and bigot. Everyone has a flag –

        The best thing is that I find this dialogue entertaining and important – and is a wonderful reflection of how people act and feel in Edmonds. We want an inclusive community. Of course we don’t want to make people feel like crap or be discriminated against. Throwing out blanket statements and posting links to articles doesn’t DO anything – accusing everyone – every single time you post something that they are idiots who just don’t get it – that’s pretty darn inclusive.

        I am done for now. I have a sensitivity training class to teach.

  19. for anyone that cares, and is able, i recommend attending the meeting monday eve – Love in a Time of Fear: Muslims and Christians as Good Neighbors, https://catacombchurches.org/2015/11/23/love-in-a-time-of-fear/

    hate speech in this country is alive and gets lots of media promotion! (Theresa does her best to move in the other direction 🙂

    i was born and raised in this country; there has always been censorship, so as not to “offend” others. i hate that with a passion, as i’m not able to hear the true feelings!

    rather than “ban” anything else in this litigious country, i’d love to see public education used as a means of helping people learn how to communicate, in a non-violent manner!

    don’t worry about how to become addicted to the !@#$%^&*() electronic screen/monitor/personal tracker!

    kids will learn to become dependent on microsoft or apple on their own!

    i rarely hear anything about learning to be curious about what other people, especially those with whom we disagree, are really trying to communicate

    without agreeing with ISIS or Boko Haram, and without labeling them so as to make them un-human –

    can anyone here come up with any guesses as to the what they are really trying to communicate in the only language spoken by this, and not only this, government?

    on a personal note: coming from southern california, back in the early 1980’s i was transferred to tennessee; having a young, naive feeling of – rebellion, for a short time, i flew the stars and bars – as a sign of rebellion, only!

    one day i was walking with a black co-worker towards my car. from the moment she saw that, she never spoke to me, again!

    you could say – i lost my virginity at that moment…

  20. Oxford Dictionary
    Ethnocentrism – “The evaluation of other cultures according to preconceptions in the standards and customs of ones own culture”

    Racism is easy to spot. Ethnocentrism is more subtle.

    White privilege is alive in Edmonds with our leader referring to the “other Edmonds”…….It doesnt get any more ethnocentric than that.


    Hopefully, this community will work hard this coming year to be inclusive of its DIVERSE community and respect all human beings which then makes everybody EQUAL

    ………the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of our country I believe states ” one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all”

    not sure how one argues with that ?!……”one nation”………”justice for all”……..”liberty”……..” under God”…………

    I think I remember a saying something along the lines of “only by the grace of God go I”……….its a roll of the dice what COLOR our skin is when we walk out the doors of our homes……….

    only by the grace………..

    what kind of people do we want to be?

  21. How about if all you people wave a white flag and call a truce. Hasn’t enough been said about this topic.

        1. Steve,

          How, in any way, shape, or form is what I am saying related to anything Trump has to say. You are working aggressively to limit speech. I disagree with that. You resort to name calling and less than subtle innuendo. That’s more Trumpesque than anything I have said above.

          You complained during the council elections about Koch Brothers backed groups limiting speech during Mike Nelson’s campaign and smear tactics. We probably both voted for him. Now you strike out with name calling because my speech isn’t limited enough. The same tactic you opposed during the council races.

          I respect your right to call me names and spew raspberries in my general direction.

  22. Folks, the last few posts have degraded to the point of back-and-forth name calling, so I’m officially shutting off comments on this topic. Happy holidays!

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